Friday, March 25, 2016

ACIM, AA and Easter – Part 3

We celebrate Easter this weekend. On Good Friday, this same weekend in 1987, is when I had my last drink of alcohol – April 17, 1987. Not only did my alcoholic self begin to die that weekend, my resurrected Self began its journey to emerge in my life. So I am living proof of the resurrection. I want to share a portion of my spiritual rebirth as I recounted it in my book - How the Bible became the Bible [Infinity Publishing, 2006 ISBN: 978-0-7414-2993-3]:
“I was able to intellectually understand what The [AA] Program was all about, but I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the changes in store for me. I wanted to get through the Twelve Steps in a month. Why not? The old-timers would nod and smile that little knowing smile and say, “Stick around. Let us love you until you learn how to love yourself.” “Sure,” I’d reply, without having a clue as to what they were saying. But I stayed around and for some strange reason continued doing what I was told.
“For over forty years I had fought against the notion of being “normal,” and instead of swimming upstream with leaden arms, I was now allowing myself to float on my back and be carried along by the current. I had hope again. I had life again. I had a tomorrow again. It was absolutely wonderful!
“I immersed myself in AA for the next nineteen months, going to about five meetings a week. I read the Big Book. I listened. I talked. I made coffee at meetings. I helped with picnics. I stacked chairs. I helped people move. I did whatever it was suggested I do, because I was deathly afraid of NOT changing.
“In the Big Book are words to the effect that the same person will drink again. I didn’t want that happening to me. If I didn’t undergo some fundamental changes in my makeup, if I remained the same person, then my sobriety wouldn’t last. I began to understand how to say, “I’m sorry.” I began to understand that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” or “How’d you do that?” or “How’d you know that?” I began to understand that it’s really a relief not to feel that I had to either baffle with bullshit or dazzle with brilliance.
“Before I had gotten sober I would get an unmistakable knot in my stomach every afternoon around four o’clock. I know now it was an early withdrawal symptom. By the time I’d get home the knot would’ve turned into a real pain. A shot of vodka would make it disappear—just melt it away. After I stopped drinking the knot continued to appear every afternoon, right on schedule. But I was going to AA after work, not home for a vodka. I began noticing, however, that when I simply touched the doorknob to the church basement where the AA meeting was held, my knot began dissolving. This was a physiological phenomenon that I could not ignore but could not explain. As I talked about it, old-timers just smiled.
“It also was stated in the Big Book that the only thing that could prevent one’s recovery was an inability to be honest—with others and with yourself. I became so honest it was ridiculous. I made Abe Lincoln look like a con artist. If I found a quarter on the sidewalk, I’d give it to a homeless person rather than put it in my pocket, because it wasn’t mine. If a lane was closed one mile ahead (according to the roadwork sign), I’d merge to the appropriate lane as soon as I saw the sign. No more trying to sneak past the honest schmucks who were slowing down. I’d put money in the tollbooth even if no one was on duty.
“AA’s Serenity Prayer (attributed to one of the Niebuhr brothers—theologian Reinhold or church historian Richard) goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” I learned I couldn’t control people, places, or things. All I could control (sometimes) was my attitude. When I changed my attitude and became truly centered—knowing that my purpose in life was to help another alcoholic—my whole physical world changed. Problems with my car got “better.” Bosses seemed to actually listen. Illnesses began to clear up. Relationship problems seemed to take care of themselves. Financial problems were not the end of the world—they simply came, had to be dealt with, and then went. To me, it’s always been a miracle. Change what I can—my attitude and outlook—and my world changes. I don’t know how to manipulate it. I cannot predict it. All I can do is accept it, thoroughly relish it when it occurs, and thank God (as I understand God) for it.
“This sense of reality and miracle is what I imagine was occurring in these small Jesus Movement groups and Christ Congregations. If I find it difficult and frustrating to communicate to you what happens when I change my attitude, then I can surely imagine the frustration and difficulty that occurred in the decades after Jesus died.
“Yes, I had hope again. I had life again. I had a tomorrow again. It was absolutely wonderful! I became a member of the human race again—an actual fallible, frail, feeling, forgetful, forgiving, fearful, frenzied, frolicking human being. It became clear as well, very quickly, that I didn’t know how to be that. I’m still learning, but that’s another story.” (Pages 183-185)
As I stated at the beginning of this message, I am living proof of the reality of the resurrection.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#4 Mar 2016
Copyright 2016

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